Sleep smarter: 5 ways technology can help you nod off
Having trouble falling asleep? Here's how your smart home can actually help you relax and wake up feeling fresh
We all struggle with our sleep from time to time, whether it's a bout of insomnia, hot weather, or a less than ideal bedroom set-up. But, while some of our interactions with technology (such as staring at our phone screens late at night) can wreak havoc on our circadian rhythms, other smart devices can become vital parts of our bedtime routine.
The best smart speakers, for example, can be loaded with apps and tools that track your sleep so you can better understand what's going on in the wee hours of the morning. Or you can use them to set up routines that allow smart lighting to automatically switch on and off when you want.
And that's before you go even further to things like smart bedding, air purifiers, and cooling fans, that can all be programmed to make your bedroom the perfect place to nod off peacefully.
Below we've listed some of our favorite ways that smart technology can help make sleep as forthcoming, refreshing, and comfortable as possible.
Enlist a smart alarm clock
The idea behind smart speakers is to make our lives easier, taking over a huge range of tasks from setting timers when cooking to broadcasting messages to family members across the house. But did you know that smart speakers like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are also excellent bedtime companions?
Smart alarm clocks aren't just limited to sounding a siren and/or playing a generic radio station to get you out of bed - you can customize pretty much everything about how you wake up. As with the best wake up lights, you can set routines that include turning on your lights at the level you prefer, playing your favorite playlist, and hearing useful information like weather and traffic for your commute to work.
A lot of companies have zeroed in on this idea, such as the Alexa with Clock and the Lenovo alarm clock with Google Assistant built-in. The latest edition of the Google Nest Hub has also put sleep tools front and center.
You can read how we set up our own routines on the Google Nest Mini in our review.
Use smart lighting
Working perfectly with smart speakers is smart lighting, which you can use in a number of ways to both streamline your night and morning routines and maybe save on your electric bill while you're at it. One of the most popular options is the Philips Hue range, but there are dozens of great alternatives.
You can set smart lighting up in a couple of ways - with smart bulbs or with smart plugs. The former means that the lightbulbs themselves are able to connect with your phone or smart speaker, where you can control the brightness, color, schedules, and more.
For example, you can have your overhead light switch off in the evening and mood lighting turned on instead, or you can program your bedroom lights to turn on at a certain level when you have set your alarm.
Improve air quality
Allergies, dust and anything else lingering in the air around you can seriously impact your sleep quality. Ever been woken up by a stuffy nose caused by hay fever, or had a coughing fit in the middle of the night despite not being sick?
The best air purifiers can significantly reduce these annoyances, removing everything from pollution from outside to pet dander to ensure you can enjoy a peaceful night. They also often double as fans or heaters, so you can control the temperature at the same time as you're helping to clean the environment.
And, of course, many air purifiers have their own apps and can be connected to your smart home for setting automation, timers, and more.
Let the sunshine in
Believe it or not, you no longer have to be ultra-rich or even really fancy to have automated curtains that open at a time of your choosing. Products like SwitchBot Curtain (the company also sells other products like a button pusher) are allowing everyone to add a bit of luxury to their morning routines.
It basically works as an add-on for your existing curtains, hooking over the rail to make your regular set-up immediately smart. Then, when you want to open or close your curtains, you can just use the app (or use voice control via Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and more!).
Lazy Sunday mornings will never be the same again.
We all know that there's nothing worse than tossing and turning all night when the weather is hot and sticky, and nothing you do seems to offer relief.
Air conditioning may be one solution, but if your home isn't fitted or you just don't want to waste energy on cooling the entire house, then a well-placed fan in the bedroom can be a true savior. A smart fan, of course, is even better.
Like with smart curtains or smart lighting, integrating your fan into your smart home set-up makes life infinitely more convenient. For some fans, you can set a time for it to switch on and off (giving you a window of comfort in which to drift off), include it in a larger morning or evening routine, and so much more.
It also saves on energy costs, cooling just the space you need, when you need it.
Caroline is the smart home ecommerce editor for Livingetc, covering everything tech for the home, from smart speakers to air purifiers and everything in between. She is passionate about the role that technology and smart devices can play in daily life, enhancing the home without sacrificing personal style and carefully chosen interiors. In her spare time, she can be found tinkering with bulbs, soundbars, and video doorbells in an effort to automate every part of her small home. Previously, she lent her expertise to the likes of Expert Reviews, IT Pro, Coach, The Week, and more.
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